1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Irish narrator in America spelling and grammar

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Alesia, Oct 5, 2013.

    This goes back to a question I asked awhile back about an American citizen, raised by Irish parents who has a hybrid American/Irish accent (I/E sounding mostly US but placing UK emphasis on certain pronunciations, the accent growing in strength when she is sick or angry, etc..) Anyway, the question is, in a story being told in first person, past tense should I be using UK rules in the narrative such as using the spelling colour, honour, tyre, grey, etc.. or is it really more of a stylistic choice depending how much emphasis there is on her culture? Or should I leave the accent emphasis to dialogue spelling alone?
     
  2. Bhrodhnos
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    Bhrodhnos Member

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    This is an interesting question.

    Obviously there are competing concerns here. One is the degree to which the character in question's accent is representative of some part of the united kingdom at any given time, and the other is to what extent switching spelling conventions will be disorienting to your audience.

    To use different orthographic conventions in dialogue or internal monologue of that sort would be an an obvious and constant reminder (to Americans at least) that your character was somehow different. If this is a significant aspect of the character, I would suggest using it, since it will make this difference viscerally apparent to your readers. On the other hand, if you're just thinking of including as sort of a throwaway because your character happens to have this accent, but it is not particularly relevant to the story, I'd simply leave it out, on the grounds that any confusion it might cause would outweigh the basically no gain it is providing.

    It is worth noting that regional variation of English occurs all over the place, and it is very rarely represented unless it has some kind of particular importance to the plot (that is, it is really important that someone is Southern, or British, or Canadian, or from New York or Chicago or Brisbane). Unless you feel like you really, really need it to say something about your character, or unless you plan on a super phonetically accurate dialogue transcription, I might just leave this one be.
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    For starters why would an Irish person living anywhere except the UK, place UK emphasis on words?
    Secondly, whether anyone would spell it as colour or color, tire or tyre, it wouldn't be audible.
    In Ireland and also in England/Scotland/Wales (ie the UK) there are a gazillion accents, Belfast to Cork, Newcastle to Newquay, Glasgow to Edinburgh, The Outer Hebrides to the Isle of White!

    Your US citizen borne to Irish parents speaking with a hybrid accent would still spell color as color.

    Maybe you need some Irish colloquialisms to show the reader your character falls back on his/her heritage when angry or sick such as "Holy Mudder o' Mary!"
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Isle of White? Which accent is that?

    ;)
     
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  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Where you want to publish your story (UK or USA) determines what spelling convention you would use. The character's background has nothing to do with it.
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, the Isle of White is situated at the foot of England so probably an "Ooh Arrr" ask @jazzabel :)
     
  7. Bhrodhnos
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    Bhrodhnos Member

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    It appears to share a common ancestor with the Hampshire dialect specifically and the West Country dialects more generally, and share most of the distinctive features associated with that dialect continuum.
     
  8. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think its doesn't matter where the book will be published - the OP's character will fluctuate from English English to American English
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It was a rhetorical question - I just thought it was spelled "Wight."
     
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  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    In those cases, the words will have to be spelled out as the character would pronounce them. But like you said earlier, for most words this won't be an issue since the pronunciation doesn't depend on what spelling convention you use.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rules for spelling and punctuation should reflect the country where you hope to publish. Rules for word choice and grammar should reflect the narrator.

    An example if your character is British but you plan to publish in America:

    "I ran over a red-colored jumper on the zebra crossing."

    Zebra crossing: UK phrase (I think) for what Americans call a crosswalk.
    Jumper: UK word for what Americans call a sweater.
    colored: American spelling

    An example if your character is from the American South and uses a particular dialect, but you plan to publish in the UK:

    "I might could get over to the store for some colouring books, if you can change that tyre. Don't wear your good sweater!"

    "might could": American Southerin phrasing (part of some American Southern dialects)
    colour, tyre: UK spelling
    sweater: American word choice (Edited to add: Possibly also "store"? In British novels they seem to say "the shops", but those are often older British novels.)

    This leaves the accent. If you do try to phonetically reproduce an accent, it should definitly only be in dialogue. I think that it would be a mistake to do it at all--I would instead suggest sticking to choice of words and phrases, and word order, but abandoning phonetic effects.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doh!
     
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  13. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    That's kind of what I was thinking. Where I was going with this is like the style of Huckleberry Finn for example. Granted the author was from the southern states, but the basic narrative is written in old southern grammar and spelling:

    It really has nothing to do with audible pronunciation. It's her writing this memoir of sorts, so it is totally dependent on written conventions in the narrative
     
  14. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    raised in america, the narrator presumably went to american schools, where american spellings would be taught. even if the narr picked up certain inflections from his or her parents, spelling and grammar would reflect his or her education. rather than try to make the character speak with a phonetic dialect, i agree that it might be better to have her use colloquialisms she might have heard around the house.
    tom sawyer and huckleberry finn were mentioned, and i know that mark twain is an american treasure and everything, but it took a great deal of effort to wade through all that dialect. for me it interrupted the flow of words, hindering what would have been a very enjoyable reading experience.
    and if the book is being published in an american market, keep in mind that not all of america will "get" the accent youre going for, and it could just come out sounding like gobbledygook.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  15. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    She didn't go to school. She was home schooled by her mother.
     
  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I do hope that everyone here realises that the Republic of Ireland is NOT part of the UK?

    The UK is Scotland, Northern Ireland (a separate country, capital city Belfast), Wales and England.

    The Republic of Ireland is "Ireland". It's an independent country, capital city Dublin.
     
  17. Bhrodhnos
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    Bhrodhnos Member

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    Geo-politically, that is a relevant obervation, but in terms of the dialect geography of Ireland, the English speakers there fall firmly within the dialect grouping of British English. Therefore it is fruitful, if not specifically politically accurate to speak of the Anglophone Irish as linguistically part of the United Kingdom
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, yes, of course you're right. However I have recently encountered Americans who think Ireland is still part of the UK. As the "UK" was referred to several times in the previous posts as applying to Ireland, I just wanted to point out that the two are not the same. (Mind you, I've also recently heard the UK spoken about as "England" as well. And this by its own present government...!)
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    oh, behave...! :)
     
  20. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Notice I separated the two? :) In my short time here in the US, it amazes me how many strangers I have met who think Ireland is part of either the UK, Great Britain or the British Isles.

    "Oh so where are you from?"
    "Ireland"
    "Oh, my buddy comes from the British Isles too!"
    "Ireland is not a British Isle"
    "Yeah but you're all the same, all British..."
    "So tell me Canadian Jack..."
    "I'm not Canadian..."
    eyebrows raised... "
    "Ohhhhhhh....gotchya!"
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a quibble: I'm not seeing any nonstandard spelling in your quote. If you're thinking of "ain't", I'd call that a word choice rather than a spelling variation.
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Huck's grammar was poor, but I don't recall seeing a non-standard spelling in that book until he used the word "sivilized" or a variant of it. Huck was a better speller than he's often given credit for.
     
  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I suppose part of the problem is that, from a geographical standpoint, I suppose Ireland IS considered to be one of the British Isles ...by some, anyway. And it was, for a time, part of the political UK as well, wasn't it? So ...things get complicated pretty quickly.

    And you'd be surprised (no you wouldn't) by how silly the whole thing can get when Scotland gets thrown into the mix as well. There were (maybe still are) websites out there that thought Scotland is a state within England. Try to register in order to buy something and fill out the online form ...which demands that you register your 'state' as Scotland and your 'country' as England! Try to tell them that's like saying you live in California, Texas ...but they don't always geddit.

    When I was first planning to move here, my American boss asked me if they speak English in Scotland. Stupidly, I said yes...

    .............

    Ermm ...I think I'm getting a bit off-topic here. This thread was about accents. I'm away noo...
     
  24. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah we were invaded and occupied for quite a while but we won our independence in 1922 - maybe nearly a century is not long enough for some :)
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    getting back to the original question...

    choice of us/uk spelling depends ONLY on which market you are aiming the work at... and the entire book/story must be consistent in re the spelling choice, not switching from one to the other in either narrative or a character's dialog...

    so, if you intend to seek publication in the UK, use their spelling... if you're aiming it at US readers, use american spelling... no story issues should be considered in making your choice, as they don't relate to who's meant to be reading it...
     

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